Punk's Reviews > Expiration Date

Expiration Date by Tim Powers
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's review
Dec 12, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: speculative-fiction
Read in December, 2008

SF. Classic Tim Powers. He takes the world we're familiar with, in this case Los Angeles in the early 90s, adds in some speculation, some science, and even a little fantasy, and suddenly you've got an L.A. filled with ghosts. Some people can see these ghosts, some people hunt them down and suck them up to gain their energy, some people kill for them.

That sounded like the back of a book jacket. Moving on! Enter the ghost of Thomas Alva Edison, 61 years dead, incredibly powerful, and newly released into Los Angeles -- and every ghost and psychic in the city knows it. Everyone's after Edison and Kootie, the little boy who's carrying him.

I really enjoyed this book. There's a lot going on, a lot of characters, a lot of POVs. There were one or two extra characters who didn't strictly need to be there, like Obstadt (I still don't know what his deal was), but it all came together in the end. Kootie and Edison make an awesome team. Edison is crabby and brilliant and excited about the advances made since his death. Kootie is eleven years old, meant to be a prophet, and in the unenviable position of having to rein in Thomas Edison.

Powers, as always, creates a world that's layered, creepy, and believable. I love the ghost culture he invents here. You can trap a ghost using palindromes! They like to stack coins and eat rocks! Sometimes ghosts hang around for so long that they accrete matter and get themselves something that looks like a human body! And there's all kinds of ghosts, sad bewildered ones, angry mean ones, and one dead guy who knew he was going to die and just refused to leave his body.

The book does have a couple tiny problems. The writing isn't as tight as it could be -- there's some unnecessary repetition -- and the climax is in the epilogue. Which, I'm pretty sure, isn't what an epilogue is for.

Four stars for atmosphere, action, world-building, and, oh -- Houdini!

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Reading Progress

12/02/2008 page 24
6.3% "Man, I love Tim Powers. This is already super creepy."
12/07/2008 page 118
30.97% "This book has so many ghosts in it I can't keep track of who's dead and who's alive!"
12/08/2008 page 146
38.32% "Just realized I have no idea what Thomas Edison looked like; all I got is Ben Franklin."
12/10/2008 page 297
77.95% "All of the characters are slowly meeting up! I love it when that happens."
12/11/2008 page 333
87.4% "The climax is in the EPILOGUE?"

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